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Questions Still To Be Answered
Published: 16 Dec 2016
Author: Russell Eades, Wanganui

I read with interest the Progress Report No 1, and had to ask myself if the Beyond 2030 group had forgotten the people who responded to their call for their vote at election time. I don’t think that this is the case.

Not being one to make irrational assumptions, and fly into print at the drop of a hat, I read through the report again and considered the current state of affairs, and what is happening in the background and behind the scenes, and as a result have some questions that I believe need answers.

Firstly, why can a councillor not get a notice of motion tabled for discussion ? It appears that despite their best intentions, the “4 horseman” have run into a brick wall of sorts, with the decision by the previous council to push ahead and sign up to an extravagant and unaffordable plant just prior to the election. The Mayor, in one breath has acknowledged that the plant is unaffordable, and in the next, continues to block attempts by newly elected councillors to pursue a better outcome for the ratepayer. The plant was signed up despite warnings by the Beyond 2030 group and other experts, of the significant risks involved in signing a contract before trade waste loadings were known and contracted for. As one councillor stated “The button got pushed on this plant pre-election, I believe it was a mistake.” And another states “The day this chief executive signed this contract, that set in concrete where we are going now, and it set in place a cost for this community, that in my opinion never needed to be there ..It is so disappointing for this community that this process was so about face and got to this stage now.”

Secondly, I too have heard the rumblings about what may be a flawed process behind the employment of the CEO. If that is the case, could we expect our Government watchdog, the Office of the Auditor-General, to scrutinise this process ? Don’t hold your breath ! All care and no responsibility. If it does transpire that the process was flawed, and the CEO appointed, then this appointment would not be lawful, and as a consequence, all actions of the CEO from appointment date onwards could be overturned. An interesting scenario and stretching things a bit but, why should the ratepayer be saddled with the results of mistakes made by elected officials.

If he was indeed a hotel manager prior to being appointed to this role, that would explain a few things but would be extremely embarrassing !!  He has stated that ( in his view ) the new plant is affordable, and that it is future proofing the city’s waste water facilities for future generations. Most of us know that this is not the case and that the CEO and several Councillors are among the handful of people in this town who think the opposite, and are, to the detriment of 45,000 plus people, refusing to consider anything that challenges their position. Other projects that require Ratepayer input, like the gallery and velodrome roofing project, where they are seeking council assistance, must be put on hold until the extortionate level of rates is bought back under control.

Thirdly, why was the project signed up with what could only be described as indecent haste so close to the election ? Were they, the previous council, trying to hide something, or simply just putting roadblocks in front of those asking questions ? If so what were they trying to hide ? The answer to that question may yet transpire.

Now we find out that AFFCO will probably look after their own waste, saddling the town with an unaffordable oversized plant that could handle the waste from a city the size of Wellington. If we grew the population to 60,000 in the next decade, that we be an outstanding achievement, but new residents and businesses are unlikely to come with rates so high, now and for the next decade at least. We, the current ratepayers, will be paying for the next few generations waste water, presuming Professor McPherson is wrong about his time frames for the demise of the human race.

As ratepayers you should be concerned, very very concerned.

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